Motoring Community Member Experience

Expectations were in fact exceeded during a recent experience as a member of the MINI community.

Time for a powdered donut!

The synchronous and asynchronous community experience were integrated.  I could hardly believe it.  I found a marketing organization, sales force and customer service ecosystem truly aligned.  Now for someone like me, who is seeped in community. this is noteworthy.  Why you ask?  Because more than anything, MINI approaches the buyer’s journey through building high trust personalized relationships.  What, trust you say?  Yes, they approach the car buying discussion with full disclosure.  They assess quickly asses your needs and personalizet he experience through actions and words.  In fact, Barry Bell, my MINI motoring representative in Reno has 26 years’ experience and shared with me that he believes the car buying experience should be anything BUT complicated.

It becomes obvious that the workforce education, sales process, leadership training and post sales support are aligned. Yes, I love the Mini Owners Lounge. Not to mention their talent acquisition process.    Yes, they hire down to earth people who sell a motoring experience.

From the threads the motoring representatives ‘sport’ to the dealer decor and throughout the web, it’s consistent, fabulous and fun.  They create an experience whereby you can hang out online with likeminded individuals in the owners lounge so brag, swap pics or share stories.  If you prefer the in person experience, ask your dealer or search online to find a local MINI motoring club.    In fact, I’m smacking my lips as I enjoy my MINI chewing gum while I think about warm weather and cranking up the numbers on my top-o-meter.  It’s a gauge that is all about fun.   It keeps track of how many hours you have been ‘driving topless’.   Taking my kids to school should be fun, right?  So this is why MINI was the right choice for me.  Hand gestures, the nice one’s are all about the MINI cult or click.  You keep one thumb hooked under the steering wheel with the other four up to acknolwedge their MINI style and get the same acknolwedgement back.  It is truly about ‘many’ smiles, warm hearts and camaraderie.

Snow angles got alot more fun to make!

As a busy working woman, I appreciated how they infused the process with fun.  They provided me with ‘many’ options which allowed me to customize my ride.  In fact, if you build your car, they simulate the warehouse and virtually allow you to see your car while in production.  You are able to lurk on the manufacturing process, which in and of it psychologically get you more attached to the car pre-delivery.  In fact, you can track it with GPS on the container if needed and soon I imagine FOURSQUARE will allow you to stamp where your ‘vehicle’ is in route and allow others to join your in the brand experience.  From the customer service agent that checks in pre-sale, to the delivery process, it’s integrated, it’s seamless and it’s FUN.

Simply said, if you want to be ‘transported somewhere’ – check out the MINI motoring experience for both the physical and emotional transportation.’’

Experience the Adventure

Reno Tahoe USA has a brand riddled with controversy yet there is in fact ‘more to know’ about the Reno / Tahoe area than what pop culture enjoys poking fun at.

Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay Sunset
Photo courtesy of

Instead of focusing on the why, I’m proposing we social brand ambassadors start discussing it openly through storytelling on the web.  For example, we can use a twitter hash tag such #experiencetheadventure to aggregate experiences, stories, adventures and codes to serve as a real time focus group with real time social tools.

Why do it?  You could bump your klout score or just enjoy the journey on a stream.

I believe we need to leverage our differences and similarities to drive brand transformation which will result in new revenue for the region while innovating.

We have great events cultural events; Burning Man, Art Town and exhibits at the Nevada Museum of Art.  Yet we don’t seem to capture the entire web buzz that we could.  We have leaders in the culinary arts field who engage with Nothing To It.  We have popular new musicians like Whitney Meyer who recently was discovered on the Voice .  Hip software companies like; Shortstack, Understand, GotDibbs who are helping bring jobs while re-investing in the region.

In terms of education, the Washoe County School District leader Heath Morrison awas awarded the AASA 2012 Superintendent of the Year and for the entire district beat out all other states for the award in overall Leadership in Communication.  Furthermore, we have great sports teams, a new Discovery Museum and UNR which offer talent, learning and affordable programs.

This is just a very quick list.  Countless numbers of organizations doing great work.  However, we have more to do. We could invest in entrepreneurial thinking, alumni, and young leaders in different approaches than we currently are focused today.  I digress.

Instead of focusing on the why the brand isn’t grounded in reality, I propose that as social brand ambassadors, we start to take the lead to help the region through using key hash tags to facilitate changing the perception.  Through this approach, we can bring help promote job growth, economic stimulus and new possibilities all the while demonstrating new innovative social leadership.

Come on Reno Tahoe Adventurers, start to share the code #ExperiencetheAdventure.   Nothing ventured anything gained, right?

Fan Communities & Communications Channel Management

To accommodate the widest group of memberships in the variety of channels, I’ve seen many organizations harness the power of new media to build out divisions, companies or revenue streams.  It’s truly an exciting time and I’m honored to be a small piece of this storm season.

During this social community conversation, this organization was taking a look at existing divisions with an eye for soon to be launched divisions to harness the power of social into their business planning.  The conversation was endless because this creative organization and leadership are just ‘those people’ we enjoy working with as they are open to new possibilities,willing to take risks and get the importance of the movemement.  They were thinking about their licensing division that is responsible for merchandising.  We discussed to blend new media channels with Face Book, Twitter in conjunctions with traditional communications (direct mail, email or phone calls) to in person focus group, red carpet or product launches.

Authenticity is key for all communications and if we are open, transparent and fresh – you will find this new approach to networks and community design influential in the networked world. Many fan communities are finding that if you are fresh, unique and original in your approach, according to online fandom, you can keep your fans engaged.   I’ve found that by inviting in a skilled community weaver into the channel, they can become a broker for connections and conversations, as well as an individual that can field questions and mediate conflict.  Many fan communities are now connecting like minded individuals across the globe to extend the social relationship beyond a film, a brand or a concept – but building relationships out of the fan based relationship into new relationships with other individuals’ causes, issues and/or products.  Examples include an artist that has launched a new record, has a tour planned, but also has a cause and/or other mentees that they want to bring up through their fan base.  The collaborative possibilities are endless when you are able to relate to the community in an authentic and human manner.

Social Media as an On- Ramp to New Possibilities

In the age of mindshare, it becomes important to think through your approach in designing your website differently than perhaps you have done in the past in order to be ‘top of mind’ if you use your website as a brand builder.  Websites can move from static content, to opportunities to create communities and/or a new brand sentiment.  They can become hubs for new ways of interacting with your clients socially.    A few friends of mine, Vanessa DiMauro and Sandy Rowley are working with many clients that are building social media networking strategies and ecosystems into their brands.  They are helping their clients use social business strategies to on-ramp clients into new possibilities.  Take the organization as wego health  as an example, they are doing really exciting work which allows health activists to converse.  Years ago this concept was completely foreign in the Health Care Industry.

 MegaStar Media is a great example, as they use traditional web design conversations through a familiar web re-design process and morph it into a dynamic and professional conversation.   Survival International is using twitter and news feeds as a way for their donors and supporters to follow them on their preferred social channel to learn about where and how their donations are furthering the mission to protect native people’s way of life and their land.    I recall in 1991 when I was working for the State Department in Washington D.C. for the Mission for the Organization of American States, I drafted for the Ambassador talking points regarding the native people in Brazil.  It took me weeks to formulate the paper based on cables, phone calls, multiple trips to the library of congress and state department employee interview notes.     The hours I could have saved had I been able to follow these different NGOs…

Baby steps are the answer!   Whether you have a small business, work in a large business unit, or are a non- profit organization, it just takes courage to move in the direction of new media.  Recently AAPE transformed the way they interact with their members using interactive email.  Sounds old school, well it’s not, it’s actually a very tight knit group of parents that have high trust and use email as a safe haven for connecting, discussing and supporting one another.